Thank you for not smothering, part two

Three ways to guide children without smothering:

1. Use encouragement more than praise. Parents who use encouragement to help children develop a greater internal focus contribute to the development of a strong, healthy self-esteem, according to Bill Corbett, author of Love, Limits, and Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (Cooperative Kids). Corbett defines encouragement as the action an adult takes to guide children to look inside themselves for an answer. He says it is encouragement—rather than praise—that “sharpens one’s ability to hear a true, inner voice, something we sometimes call intuition. For those of faith, it’s also considered the true voice of God.”

2. Put relationships before rules. While establishing limits and rules is an important part of parenting, rewards and punishments are not primary motivators for children—relationships are. In Parenting Your Teens with TLC (Sorin) authors Patt and Steve Saso put it this way: “When kids feel that we genuinely care about them, it prompts them to learn. This relationship is the driving motivation for our teens to want to follow our guidance, accept direction, and strive to be their best selves.”

3. Look for God’s plan. Poetic, congratulatory cards at a child’s birth or baptism remind parents that their child is a gift from God and that God has a special task for that child. As the child grows, though, no one is sending cards reminding you that your 9-year-old’s stubbornness is a gift he will need someday to do what God will ask of him. Parents who consistently work to see God’s handiwork in their children’s personality and talents are better able to guide their children effectively.

—by Annemarie Scobey  from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2010 and 2011 General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

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